No ‘sign-on’ bonuses for UAE employees

Such bonuses were very common up until 2008, say experts

Companies in the UAE are unwilling to offer signing-on bonuses to candidates after the recession. Even though hiring is on the upward trend and employees are getting single digit pay hikes, this particular kind of bonus is under pressure.

“Signing-on bonuses were very common up until 2008, and in particular within the investment banking and private equity markets.

However, during the economy's lean patch, the appetite for institutions to pay these bonuses significantly decreased.

Now that markets are more robust, in certain cases sign-on bonuses are being paid, however, only if candidates can prove that by joining their new firm they will lose out on a certain guaranteed bonus or tangible stocks,” Hasnain Qazi, Middle East Business Manager at Huxley Associates told 'Emirates24|7'.

Konstantina Sakellariou, Partner, Marketing & Operations Director at Stanton Chase believes that UAE companies are not doling out this bonus anymore.

“Signing bonuses are very rare at the moment, especially after the crisis.  It is true that before the crisis they were used sometimes, as an additional attraction for people to join a company, but after the crisis they are not used," she said.

Some experts say this incentive was not given across the board and was limited to a certain segment of employees in the market even before the economic slowdown. But today they just seem a rare thing, they say unanimously.

“In our experience signing bonuses are relatively uncommon and have only occurred with a very small percentage of the clients we have worked with recently.

They were slightly more common a few years ago but even then were not prevalent,” Cliff Single, Commercial Manager at BAC Middle East told this website.

Signing bonuses are popular in some economies of the world and in some countries they are a norm instead of an incentive offered on occasion for hard-to-fill jobs.

Placement firm Merritt Hawkins recently conducted an online survey of medical professional in the US and deduced that of the 4,300 people who participated, 56 per cent reported that signing bonuses were part of the deal.

Moreover, the report also show continued reliance on other one-time incentives, including loan forgiveness, median signing bonus and even an allowance to offset the loss of selling a home for less than the purchase price.

"We don’t have such things here. In countries like the US it's an extreme negative these days if you don't have a signing bonus. I know many people who get it in the States but we don’t have it here,” said a senior manager at a multinational bank on the condition of anonymity."


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